History and Overview
In 2014, Bill Woodburn, a Partner at Global Infrastructure Partners and former President & CEO of GE Infrastructure, founded Engineering Tomorrow (ET) with two main objectives: (1) to encourage inner city high school students to pursue engineering in college by getting them excited and energized about careers in the field of engineering; and (2) to bolster the number of U.S. students entering the field of engineering in order to continue our country’s leadership in innovation and problem solving at the highest levels.
ET targets populations that have historically been underrepresented in engineering, with a focus on females and students of Hispanic and African American descent. While women make up 51% of the U.S. population, they constitute only 19% of engineering graduates in the U.S. The dearth of Hispanics and African Americans in engineering is revealed by the fact that while they make up 18% and 13% of the American population, respectively, they account for only 9% and 4% of America’s engineers. Meanwhile, Caucasians are 63% of the American population and 63% of engineering graduates, while Asians make up 6% of the American population but account for 11% of engineers.
By guiding inner city youth to a promising future in the engineering field, ET is also addressing the need for the U.S. to increase the number of engineering graduates. In 2014, the US produced 80,000 engineering graduates. That same year, China produced 1,050,000 engineering graduates and India produced 650,000 engineering graduates. By 2035, China will graduate over 3.5 million more engineers per year than the U.S. and India will graduate over 2 million more engineers per year than the U.S. To maintain America’s role as the global leader in innovation, we must introduce talented students to engineering and get them excited about careers in this vital field.
During the 2014-15 academic year, ET piloted an engineering course at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, CT. At the same time, ET also started participating in STEM conferences with several public schools in northern New Jersey. Over the course of two years, ET developed an effective curriculum and was poised for expansion. The Archdiocese of New York (ADNY) was selected as the first ET partner school system. The ADNY has 45 high schools with a total enrollment of 22,685 students (47% of ADNY students are female and 52% are minority (non-white)). The ADNY spans a geographic area of 4,715 square miles and includes areas like the South Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. 70% of students in ADNY schools in NYC live at or below the poverty line. 99% of ADNY’s high school seniors graduate and 99% of those graduates go on to college. The ADNY is an education system that works, and works well for an extremely diverse socioeconomic population.
After being well-received by students, faculty, and school administrators in the ADNY, ET piloted a program in the Archdiocese of Newark and Scholars’ Academy (Queens, NY) during the 2017-18 school year. These high schools represent the target population that ET seeks to engage. The program was met with great success, and these high schools will participate in ET program again this year.